Zeljko Ferencic‚MD
Zeljko Ferencic‚MD

The new 2021. just started, still with echoes of a Gargantual gastronomy/oenology (not to be confused with gastroenterology [sic!] days related to Christmas and New Year festivities. The more pleasant echoes still in my brains are popular Christmas songs as well as more challenging music like Bach’s Christmas Oratorio or van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.


What I realized is that these echoes are real. I found myself washing my hands and silently singing the van Beethoven’s fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony, better known as “Ode to Joy”. Of course, my knowledge of German language is of a such level that I only sung the musical score, being very far from the original Schiller’s “Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum! Deine Zauber binden wieder Was die Mode streng geteilt; Alle Menschen werden Brüder Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.“


In that very moment I remembered my friend, colleague, and president of AACI, dr John Davis Bell washing his hands and singing „Happy birthday“ (twice). I finished washing my hands with a very difficult problem: is Ode to Joy more important over Happy birthday tune for a proper hand washing?

The next day things became more complicated. Browsing through medical literature I found an article last year published in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal (Thampi N, Villeneuve Lekha N, Longtin Y. Wash your hands, Brother John! BMJ 2019; 367:l6050).  The authors used the melody of a well known children’s song, Brother John (Frère Jacques), and incorporated the six recommended steps for hand hygiene. The lyrics were developed in collaboration with children of preschool and primary school age, ensuring that their intended audience could easily understand them, and leveraged the rhythmic and rhyme patterns of a popular song to improve memory retention.


AACI has established a universal patient safety program pertinent to all healthcare organizations and key indicators from monitoring and measuring are published by AACI on an annual basis. These indicators are determined by current conditions relevant to patient safety in the healthcare arena and by input from all AACI stakeholders.

The leading indicator for 2020.-2022. is establishing a cultural awareness of hand-washing and its absolute necessity in the patient care setting. (https://aacihealthcare.com/patient-safety-goals-2020-2022/).


In this rather depressive global COVID-19 situation, when hand washing is more important than ever, keep singing, wash your hands, and stay healthy!!!